British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday told opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn to “man up” and accept a snap election as EU members delayed a decision on how long to postpone next week´s Brexit deadline.
Senior diplomats told AFP they would decide by late Monday or early Tuesday next week, shortly before Britain is currently scheduled to break away from the bloc on Thursday.
At home, Johnson wants to call an election for December 12 that he hopes will give him a majority to pass the divorce deal he struck with EU leaders last week.
But his government is struggling to secure the two-thirds majority it needs in a parliamentary vote, scheduled for Monday, to force the election.
The stand-off extends the uncertainty that has dragged on ever since the 2016 referendum in which Britain voted by 52 percent in favour of leaving the European Union.
Corbyn has said his Labour Party will withhold support until a no-deal Brexit is definitively taken off the table, which would require a major reworking of the deal Johnson struck with the EU. “Time for Corbyn (to) man up. Let´s have an election on December 12,” Johnson told television stations.
“What I´m saying to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party is that they have the opportunity now to get this thing done.”
Senior European diplomats who attended a meeting on Friday in Brussels confirmed member states had agreed in principle that some kind of delay was in order. They agreed that their capitals could decide on its length by written procedure, rather than by holding a leaders´ crisis summit in Brussels next week.
But, with France pushing for a shorter delay to keep the pressure on Westminster, and Germany and Ireland backing a three-month pause until January 31, the decision is not done. “Depending on how things evolve in the UK, we´ve given ourselves until the start of next week,” a senior diplomat said.
“It´s clear that if a decision is taken in the UK on whether or not to hold an election — the date of the election will weigh on the consultations,” he said.— AFP